Illinois' top law enforcement official is warning residents impacted by the recent storms: Be on the lookout for scammers. Attorney General Lisa Madigan wants residents to be alert for home repair con artists who exploit homes and businesses following natural disasters. Madigan says the con men will often swoop in following disasters and pressure homeowners and businesses to pay for expensive services. Some quick tips to avoid being ripped off:
Be wary of contractors who go door to door to offer repair services. Ask for recommendations from people you know and trust and, whenever possible, use established local contractors.
Call the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Hotline to check out a contractor and to learn if any complaints have been filed against a particular business.
Even if there is a need to act quickly, shop around for the best deal. Get written estimates from multiple contractors, and don’t be rushed into a deal.
Get all of the terms of a contract in writing, and obtain a copy of the signed contract.
Never make full payment until all the work has been completed to your satisfaction.
Never pay in cash.
Be aware that you have the right to cancel a contract within three business days if you signed it based on the contractor’s visit to your home.
In the case of disaster repair, you have an additional right to cancel. If your insurance carrier denies coverage, you have the right to cancel the contract within five days of when your insurance carrier denies your coverage.
Ask to see required state and local permits and licenses. Insurance adjusters and roofers must be licensed by state agencies. If the contractor does not have a required license, or if the name on the license doesn’t match the name on the contractor’s business card or truck, that should raise a red flag.